Young Steve stood on the porch of his parent's porch. It was about eight o'clock in the evening. They were watching a rare lunar eclipse. It was not to occur again for another 24 year only at 8:00 in the morning, and it was tobe a solar eclipse.
"Wow, dad this is great." Steven exclaimed his right arm stretched pointing to the sky as the watched the eclipse.
Col. Steve Austin stood in Dr. Rudy Wells' office. He had just returned from an assignment in the Far East Rudy wanted to run some tests as it was past time for his Bionic tests. Rudy was a little concerned: Steve seemed a little distracted.
"Everything ok Steve? You seem a little preoccupied." Outside the solar eclipse was starting.
"I don't know Rudy. I was just thinking of something that happened a long time ago." Steve said as he grabbed the largest barbell off of its resting place on the floor. He started lifting it high above is head with his right arm. All of the sudden without any warning the barbell crashed to the ground.
"Steve!!" Rudy cried out turning toward the sound. "What's wrong?
Rudy's face went ashen white as Col. Steve ran for the farthest corner of the room and started crying. "Steve what's gotten into you?"
"I don't know you." He cried. "Who are you, I want my mommy. I don't know this place. Where am I? I want to go home. "
Rudy let out a gasp. The voice was Steve's but the tone sounded as if he might be a little boy.
Standing on the porch of his parents home Steve blinked his eyes several times trying to figure out just what in the world was going. The last thing he remembered was lifting a barbell in Rudy's lab. He turned to the manstanding next to him. His gasp was the same as Rudy's. He was looking at his stepfather but he looked so young.
At that moment, the front door opened. A very young very attractive Helen stepped out onto the porch. She ruffled Steven's hair, "bout time for bed honey."
Steve marveled at how she reached down to touch the top of his head. Then he realized he was at the old house. The house he grew up in.
He ran in the door and up the stairs, he went into his room and looked in the mirror. The person facing him was not the Col Austin who had faced him when he woke up that morning. The face staring back at him was himself when he was seven-years old.
Rudy walked over to Steve. "Steve, what has gotten into you? What's wrong?
"How do you know my name? My name is Steven. Only I don't know who you are."
Rudy was very concerned. Had something happened to him on the mission, and he was suffering a delayed reaction? Had he developed amnesia? "Steve, are you sure you don't know me? It's Rudy. We're friends."
"I don't have friends who are grown-ups"
"Grown-up? What do you mean? You are a grown-up. You are.”
At that moment Oscar walked into He was shocked by what he saw. Steve was sitting on the floor rocking back and forth and crying, Rudy sitting next to him.
"Rudy, what's going on?" he questioned.
"I don't know. One minute we were running his tests, the next the barbell crashed to the floor, he ran to the corner and stated crying for his mommy.
"You heard me. He doesn't seem to recognize me at all.” He turned back to the man sitting on the floor. "Steve? Do you know who this man is?"
"Never saw him before."
"Come on Rudy, he's putting us on."
"I don't think so." He reached out his hand to Steve. “Come on let's see if we can find out what's going on."
"Come in," Steve responded to the knock that came to his bedroom door.
"Is everything alright?” his mother asked gently stroking his forehead. "I know things are happening very fast. I only wish you hadn't been the one to see it. But honey you did, and now you have to do what's right."
Steve sat on his bed perplexed. What was she talking about? What had he seen? He glanced over at the football calendar that hung on his wall. It was October 1950. He was not quite eight years old. 'October 1950, Oh my gosh he thought to himself. Billy, how could I have forgotten? He guessed I never really did.
His mind traveled back to in time actually to the time he was in now. He remembered how hard it had been. The lawyer for the defense standing right in front of him, blocking his view so he couldn't see his parent. Maybe that's what was going on. Maybe the adult Steve was to testify this time around.
"I'll be all right mom," he reassured. "Could you please leave me alone for a moment?”
Helen stared at her son. When did he start to speak like that? She had been trying for months to get Steven to use manners. And now all of the sudden out of the blue. As she left the room she said, "You better get to be. You have school in the morning. I don't know if they will need you at the trial tomorrow or not. But you will go to school until they tell us when it your turn to testify."
After she left the room Steve sat at his desk looking at the pile of schoolbooks waiting for school the next day. "I sure hope this works." He said aloud to no one in particular.
He took a sheet of paper from his notebook and began to write a letter:
October 23, 1950
I don't know what is going on, but some how I have ended up in 1950. I am seven years old again. I mean my body is seven. My mind is 32. I am to assume that the seven year old is in my body in 1974. I don't know what has happened, but I think I know why. When I was seven I witnessed the mother of my best friend Billy abuse him. I was to testify in court, but was so scaredthat I said the wrong things. She was acquitted, and his mother killed him two weeks later. I felt guilty for a long time afterwards, still do as a matter of fact. I think I know why this has happened. I must be here totestify. This time the judge and Billy's mother won't scare me.
I don't know if you will ever receive this letter. I am going to give it to my Dad's lawyer and have it delivered on the date this all takes place.Please be gentle with the seven year old me. I'm sure he is scared to death.
Col. Steve Austin
P.S. Bionics don't work when I'm seven.
The morning passed quickly. "I'm hungry" Steve said.
"Well that's good." Rudy stated. "Why don't we go get something to eat?"
"Why don't we just order in?" Oscar suggested.
"Good idea. I'll call down for some sandwiches I know what I want. How about you Oscar.?”
"The usual ham and cheese on rye."
"Steve, what do you want?"
"Peanut butter and jelly."
Oscar and Rudy exchanged concerned glances.
"Ok peanut butter and jelly it is. Anything to drink?”
"Yes please. A glass of milk."
Rudy practically dropped the phone. "Are you serious?"
"Of course I am.That's all mommy will let me drink."
Rudy shrugged his shoulders and placed the order. Something was going on and he was going to get to the bottom of it.
The rest of the day was just as strange. Steve sat most of the day at Rudy's desk drawing pictures and coloring.
Rudy was reading every book he could get his hands on dealing with regressive amnesia.
After they had dinner once again in Rudy's office. Oscar was very worried."Rudy do you think something happened to him when he was on assignment? I mean this is not like Steve at all."
"I don't know Oscar anything is possible." They both turned to Steve who was sitting on the couch in Rudy's office.
"I'm tired." Steve said. “I want to go to bed. I want my teddy and my blankie."
Rudy and Oscar looked at one another. "Excuse me?" Oscar said.
I want my Teddy and my blankie."
"You're kidding, right?" Rudy stated.
Steven started crying again.
"Ok ok we'll get if for you." Rudy led Steve back into the lab and put him in a hospital bed. “Maybe a good night's sleep is all you need."
Steve continued to cry until he fell asleep.
After a very restless night Steve woke up the next morning. He sat bolt upright in bed. It hadn't been a dream. It was still 1950. He got dressed and went to the kitchen for breakfast. After eating he handed his stepfather an envelope containing the letter he had written the night before.. "Dad, would you please give this letter to your lawyer? The note explains what needs to be done with it. Please, it's very important. I don't want you to ask any questions. Maybe someday I'll be able to explain it to you"
"OK, I won't ask any questions. I'll drop it off after I drop you off atschool. I'll also explain to your teacher what's going on, and that we might need to get you early today."
"Ok dad, just be sure you deliver that letter to the lawyer. Tell him no questions please. Also give him this.' Steven held out about 20 dollars in change.
Jim looked at his stepson "This must be serious. What is in the letter son?”
"Dad please, no questions."
Jim dropped Steven off at school, and then went downtown to his lawyer's office. "Ben I don't know what's going on, but Steven wants you hold onto this. He said just follow the instructions in the note. He said ask no questions. I guess he's retaining your services. He gave me all of his allowance. So I guess he feels he needs a lawyer." Jim handed the letter over to the lawyer.
At that exact moment, Oscar and Rudy were sitting in Rudy's office watching Steve sleep. It was about 9:00 at night. "Oscar, I am…”
They were interrupted by a knock at the door. "Mr. Goldman. I have a special delivery letter for you." Oscar took the yellow colored envelope from the deliveryman, gave him a couple of bucks for a tip, and signed the receipt book.
"Oscar, what is it?" Rudy asked as Oscar read the letter. Rudy was very concerned, as Oscar's face had turned ashen white. "Oscar, are you going to be sick?
Oscar looked over at Steve, still sleeping in the bed, tears drying on his cheeks, and then handed the letter to Rudy. Then he walked over to where Steve slept.
smdmsmdmsdmsmdmsmdAfter Jim had dropped him off Steven he ran to catch up to his friends. They played football till the bell rang.
Steve sat in his desk in room 101 at the Ojai Elementary School. Miss Brown was addressing the class. "Good morning boys and girls. Let's start off our day with a little history. Who can name at least three people who signed the Declaration of Independence?” No one raised his or her hands. Miss Brown looked around the classroom.
"Ginny, can you name at least three men who signed the Declaration of Independence? "
Slowly Ginny shook her head.
Quickly Steven's hand went up. "Yes Steven," Miss Brown spoke in an exasperated voice.
"I can name the signers of the Declaration of Independence."
"Oh you can Mr. Smarty. Ok let's hear it.”
A big smile crossed Steven's face as Steve remembered the trouble he had had with Miss Brown. 'Browning points coming right up' Steven said to himself.
"Ok, From Georgia: Lyman Hall, George Walton and Button Gwinnett. From North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn. From South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr.,Thomas Lynch Jr.,Arthur Middleton. From Massachusetts: John Hancock. From Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton. From Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry, Lee Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson,Jr., Francis Lightfoot, Lee Carter Braxton. From…”
"Ok Mister that's good. Now, what year was it signed?"
"It was signed July 4 1776, but Miss Brown there are still 34 signatures togo."
"That is it. You will stay in at recess and write 50 times. 'I will not talk back to my teacher. Is that understood?"
"Listen Miss Brown, you have been picking on me since the school yearbegan."
"Do you want to have a visit with the principal young man?
"As a matter of fact I would. I would love to speak to the principal I would love to tell him about the way you have been treating me. The rest of the kids are sick of it too only they don't have the guts to tell you.”
By now Miss Brown's face was red with fury. "I have just about had it withyou. You march yourself down to that principal's office. I will be right behind you. The principal will wipe that smile off your face."
Steve almost ran to the office. 'I can kill two birds with one stone' he thought to him self. I can get Miss Brown off my back and maybe save Billy's live at the same time.
He could hear Miss Brown's high-heeled shoes close behind him. "She will not get away with it this time' he again thought to himself. 'You're not dealing with a scared seven year old anymore.'
He opened the door to the Principal's office. It was much smaller then he remembered.
The secretary looked up. "Oh it's Steven Austin again." She said with disdain in her voice. "Good morning Miss Brown, how are you today?"
"Not very good Lisa. As you can see this one is giving me grief again."
"Go on in, Mr. Kreiger isn't busy at the moment."
Miss brown grabbed Steven by the shirt collar and shoved him into the office. “Mr. Kreiger here we are AGAIN!"
"What is it this time Steven?"
“All I did was answer her question, who signed the Declaration of Independence I gave her the first 22 and where they were from."
Joe Krieger looked up at Miss Brown who shook her head as she stood with her arms folded across her chest and tapped her foot lightly on the floor. Then he looked back at Steven.
"Well suppose you tell me."
"No problem" Steven stated. "Then we need to have a little talk. They are as follows:From Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton. From North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn. From South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton. From Massachusetts: John Hancock. From…”
"Ok, Ok I get the picture." He turned to Miss Brown. "What is the problem Barbara? He answered your question? Miss Brown I think you better get back to your class." She turned and stomped out of the room. "Now young Master Austin, what can I do for you?"
"Mr. K, Miss Brown has had it in for me from the beginning. This is not the first time she has drug me down here for no reason. It's just that all the other times I have been to scared to say anything. I guess the up coming trial is giving me a little courage. By the way, she wants me to stay in at recess and write 50 times I will not talk back to the teacher."
"I don't see any need for that. In fact it's time for recess right now. You join your friends on the playground."
Steven clicked his heels together and raced out of the building. Out on the playground his friends were surprised to see him. "Hey Steven" called is best friend David. "I thought Brown the clown made you stay in?"
"Mr. K let me come out. He said I didn't have to write for Miss Brown."
When the children came back in, Mr. Kreiger was sitting at Miss Brown's desk. "Have a seat children." He stated. “Miss Brown will not be teaching you anymore. I will be here till we find a replacement. Now if you will open your math books to page 78 we will…”
They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Mr. K, as the kids called him, turned toward the door. "Mr. Elgin what can I do for you?"
"I'm here for Steven. The lawyer says he will be testifying this afternoon. The judge wants to get it done and over since Steven is just a kid.”
"Ok Steven just call one of your friends tonight and they will give you your homework."
"Ok thanks Mr. K."
As Steven and Jim walked down the hall to the door, Jim asked, “Are you scared?"
"I was but not anymore."
"Good, the judge won't hurt you. In fact he wants to meet you over lunch so you won't be scared."
"That sounds great." He remembered his first lunch with the judge. He had been so scared he could hardly talk. He was sure now looking back that the judge must have thought he was some kind of an idiot.
Helen was waiting for them when they got to the car. "Now honey, you don't have to do this if you don't want to. The police have plenty of evidence."
"No they don't, mom. If I don't say what needs to be said. Just trust me. Bad things will happen."
Back in Washington Oscar and Rudy kept a very close watch on Steve looking for any sign that their friend had returned It was about going on midnight.Steve kept right on sleeping.
"By the way Oscar, you never did say why you had come down to my office in the first place."
I wanted to see how Steve's last assignment had gone. He was supposed to check in with me, but you needed to do his tests. Rudy, I just had an awful thought. What if this had happened when he was in The Far East?”
"I was thinking that myself. Let's just be glad that it didn't."
Oscar took the letter again and read it slowly this time. ‘I never knew you went through that Steve' he thought to himself. 'it must have been very traumatic.’ He knew the last line was for he and Rudy's eyes only. 'Bionics don't work in seven year old body.'
He looked down to where his friend slept. "I hope everything is going good where ever you are right now."
Helen, Jim and Steven arrived at the Court House. "Well here we are Jim said. "Are you sure you're ready son?” He turned to Steven.
"Yes sir I'm fine. Let's go get this done."
"You must be young Master Austin?" The guard said as they entered the building. "Come with me, the Judge is waiting for you in his chambers." He took Steven by the hand and led him down the long hallway.
"Your honor, may I introduce young Master Austin."
"Steven, come on in," the Judge said in a kind voice.
'I remember this much differently' Steve thought. 'Maybe that's because at the time I was just a kid, I'm looking at it through the eyes of an adult now.’ He walked in and sat across for the Judge.
"I ordered some lunch for us. I thought you would like a ham sandwich and a glass of milk?”
'Actually a beer would be nice' Then aloud he said "Milk and a ham sandwich sounds wonderful your Honor, Sir."
"Just Your Honor will do. Now Steven, what do you like to do? Do you have any favorite games?"
'I get it, he's trying to be friends' “I really like Monopoly, it's my favorite."
"I like that game myself,"
The sandwiches arrived and they say in the Judges Chambers and ate. They talked about all kinds of things, the weather, how he was doing in school.
"Well I guess it's time. The lunch break is over." He led Steven out of his Chambers and back down the hall. "You sit on this bench and I'll call you when it's time. Your parents will be here soon."
Steve sat on the bench waiting for Helen and Jim to show up. "Hi how did itgo with the Judge?" Jim asked.
"It went good. He is very nice. I'm not scared at all."
"That's great. We've been worried about you. Just answer the lawyers’ questions and you'll do just fine."
"Look Oscar why don't you go get some sleep, I'll stay with Steve. I can catch a few winks on the couch."
"Are you sure Rudy?"
"Yea, I really don't want to leave him alone. I mean if the letter is for real, the body might be Steve's, but the mind is only seven. I really don't feel right leaving him alone."
"Ok, I'll see you in the morning."
"Oscar, it is morning. About 2 in the morning for that matter."
Oscar left the room. Hoping that upon his return Col. Steve Austin would be back.
"Steven, the judge is ready for you now."
"Can we be in the courtroom with him?" Jim asked.
"Of course, the judge wants you to be there."
They all got up and walked into the courtroom.
"Just sit right up here son." The judge said as Steven walked in.
He took his seat on the witness stand. He couldn't help but wonder what was happening to himself in Washington. ‘I can't think of that now,’ he thought. I have to stay focused why is it so hard to do now. I can't blow it again.
"Would you please state your name for the court?”
"Yes sir. Steven Austin"
"Very good. And do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
"Yes I do."
"Very good." The bailiff returned to his spot on the other side of the judge.
Jackson Daniels the attorney for the state approached Steven.
"Good Afternoon Steven, I just have a few questions for you. In fact I wonder if you can to tell us exactly what happened on Sept. first of this year. Can you do that?"
"Yes no problem.' Steve started."I was going over to Billy's house to see if he wanted to come over and play. I had just gotten some new match boxcars and wanted to show them to him. When I got there Billy was screaming and crying. I didn't know what was going on. I continued on to the house and saw his mother with an extension cord."
The lawyer interrupted. "What, if anything, was she doing with the extension cord?"
"She was hitting him with it. I think a better word would be to say she was beating him with it. She just kept hitting him over and over again."In Steve's mind, it had happened over 20 years ago. But now he remembered it as if it were only last week.
"Did you do anything?"
"I was scared."
"Are you scared now?"
"No! I am not."
"That's good. About how many times would you say Billy's mom hit him with the extension cord?”
"I don't. I guess I would have to say about 15 to 20 times that I saw."
"Are you sure with that number?"
"Yes, I counted."
"Did Billy try to get away?"
"No. His mom was holding him too tight."
"What did you do when she finished?"
"She didn't. I ran away after that. I went and told my mom. She's the one who called the police."
"Ok Steven, thank you for answering my questions."
Now it was Dick Taylor's turn. He was defending Mrs. Love. Billy's mother.
"Good afternoon young man.”Just as before Mr. Taylor stood right in front of Steven so he couldn't seehis parents."Now you say you saw my client strike her son 50 times on the back with theelectric cord?"
"That is incorrect. I said 15 up to 20 times. Not 50."
"Oh I'm sorry, I stand corrected."
'You're not going to scare me this time'
"Do you like to tell stories Steven?"
“Yes sir, I am seven all seven year olds like to tell tales every now and then, but when it comes to something as serious as child abuse, we don't tell stories as you say."
Dick Taylor was taken aback about ten paces. "Excuse me?"
"Mr. Taylor. I saw what I saw. I saw Billy's mother beat the crap out of him."
The courtroom fell silent. Then everyone began to whisper at once. "Did he say crap?” Everyone asked.
Shocked, Helen's hand was over her own mouth. She couldn't believe what her son had just said.
The judge banged down his gavel. “Order, there will be order in this courtroom!!"Then he turned to Steve. "Son you must watch your language."
"I'm sorry your Honor. But it's the truth. I saw what she did. She just kept hitting him and hitting him."
"Anymore questions Mr. Taylor?"
"No your Honor. I don't think so. May I have a moment with my client?”
"By all means. Court will recess for 15 minutes."
Helen and Jim took Steven down the hall. They wanted to speak with the attorney for the State. They caught up to him. "I know we aren't supposed to talk to you, we just wanted to know if we can take Steven home now?"
"No, you better stay till after the recess."
So they went down to the lunchroom downstairs.
15 minutes later, they were all back in the courtoom.
"This court is once again in session."
"Your Honor, my client wishes to change her plea from not guilty to guilty."
At that moment Steve woke up in the hospital bed in Rudy's lab. He got out of bed and walked to the door, opened it and there was Rudy sleeping on the couch. Next to him on the coffee table was the letter he had written 24 years ago. Steve reached down to pick it up. 'So they did receive it ‘ He thought aloud.
With that Rudy woke up. "Steve?"
"Yea Rudy it's me."
"Is everything ok?
"Everything is great."
"I better call Oscar he has been very worried, me to for that matter."
He had already picked up the phone. "Oscar, Rudy. He's back."
"I'll be there in ten minutes."
"Mommy, can we have pizza for dinner tonight?"
"Of course we can sweetie."